The 10 Most Important Jaguars For 2020, No. 9: Jawaan Taylor
2020 is a make-or-break year for the current regime leading the Jacksonville Jaguars. While this may sound like a broken record after being overly repeated since the disappointing 2019 season drew to a close, it is the simple truth.
In the last two years, the Jaguars have finished in last place of the AFC South each season while compiling a 11-21 record. In fact, 2019's meager 6-10 record, as bad as it was, was actually one of the better records the Jaguars produced during the 2010s decade. The past has been ugly for the Jaguars and the team will assuredly put as much energy as possible into changing this in 2020.
As the Jaguars attempt to reverse their look and field a winning team in the fall, they will need all 53 members of the active roster and every coach on the staff to step their game up. But among those on the team, there are a select few players who will be especially pivotal to Jacksonville's success.
As we continue to move forward toward the start of the 2020 NFL season (pending one actually taking place), we will take a look at which players we think are especially important next season.
Yesterday, the list started with nose tackle Al Woods at No. 10. Woods is set to be a key piece of the defense as they attempt to turn last year's porous run defense into a more formidable unit.
Now, we turn our attention to the No. 9 most important Jaguars player for the upcoming fall: right tackle Jawaan Taylor.
Jacksonville traded up to No. 35 overall to select Taylor out of Florida in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, finding a way to land the round one talent after he slipped to the draft's second day. Taylor was a day one starter at right tackle for the Jaguars last season, starting every game and even playing every single offensive snap, the only rookie to do so last season.
So, why is Taylor's performance so vital to Jacksonville's success in 2020? We break it down here.
Why Jawaan Taylor is important for the Jaguars in 2020
In today's NFL, it can be argued that right tackles are just as important as left tackles. Most NFL teams will align their best pass rusher along the left side of the offensive line, and in some cases, teams have dynamic pass-rushing duos to attack both the right and left tackles.
For an example of the importance of right tackles, just look at some of the edge defenders Taylor played against as a rookie: Frank Clark, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Von Miller, Maxx Crosby, Brian Burns, Shaquil Barrett and Joey Bosa. Several of these players are among the very best of all pass-rushers in the NFL, while others are dangerous young defensive ends in their own rights.
Looking ahead to Jacksonville's 2020 slate, and they are once again set to face off against a number of talented pass-rushers who could singlehandedly wreck the Jaguars' offense on any given play. In 2020, the Jaguars are set to play against Bosa, Trey Flowers, T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett, Matthew Judon and Danielle Hunter.
With another murderers row of pass-rushers on Jacksonville's schedule, there is little doubt that Taylor's performance and development in his second year will play a key part in the success of the Jaguars in 2020. Luckily for the Jaguars, Taylor was among the best rookie offensive linemen in 2019 and there is genuine optimism that his strong play throughout his rookie year, specifically at the end of the season, can carry over to this season.
"He’s long, he’s athletic and he plays with the tenacity that you love from a tackle. I am very excited to get to work with him at right tackle," Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said in May.
"He can run, he can pull, he can get out there on screens, he’s physical in the running game and he can pass protect, he’s got great feet. He’s got every quality that you want in an offensive tackle and the more experience he gets and handing some of the movement up front, the better he’s going to be. I think that he’s one of the best right tackles in the game athletically and the more he plays and the more he sees, the better he is going to get. Coach [George] Warhop has done an excellent job with him.”
Jacksonville's offensive line will need to take a big leap in 2020 as a whole, and Taylor's development will play a big part in whether it does or not. According to Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards metric, Jacksonville's offensive line ranked No. 27 in 2019 with 3.88 per carry. In terms of pass blocking, Jacksonville finished No. 16 in adjusted sack rate with 7%.
For the Jaguars' offensive line to turn into an upper-echelon unit in the fall, Taylor will be one of the most important pieces. In more than a handful of games in 2020, Taylor will be lined up against the opposing team's best pass-rusher. No other offensive lineman sans Cam Robinson will have to face as many challenges as Taylor next year, making his performance pivotal.